Summarizing Informational Text

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SWBAT identify main idea and supporting details as well as summarize a text for better understanding.

Big Idea

The Martians Attack!! Students read an informational piece and summarize the events that lead up to the panic Orson Welles created with his infamous radio broadcast!

Advanced Organizer

7 minutes

To motivate and engage my students I will have the students pick up the Plot Structure diagram and fill it out about one of their favorite (school appropriate movies).  I will ask them to think about how they would describe the movie to a friend. 

I will allow them time to work to complete the Plot Structure-Student Sample.  As they are working, I will circulate through the room to make sure they are placing the events in the correct section.  This could be a good time to review the plot parts with the students who need a quick review.  I may also have them use their interactive spirals and flip back to our notes on plot-if they need to review. 

Once I have given them about five minutes, I will ask a student to describe the plot of his or her favorite movie.  As they are describing, I will write the plot chart that I will display onto the board.  I will make sure the plot diagram includes details of the movie's climax and resolution. 

Then, I will ask the students "What do these points tell us about the movie?"  (the movie's major events and what happens to the main characters)

I will then ask the students why each point was included.  I will need to guide them to understand that a good description restates the main ideas and most important points of the plot. 

I will then tell the students that today we are going to learn the steps for creating a good summary of a reading passage. 


20 minutes

To help the students understand how to write a summary, I am going to start with a shorter passage.  This will allow them to really focus the skill and allow for me to assess their ability when working with text. 

I will use a short passage from Gary Soto's La Bamba-Gary Soto.  I will read the passage aloud first, then read it again.  The second time I read it, I will model how I will underline the important details in the text. As I am underlining, I will have the students do the same on their copy. Modeling Text Annotations

Next, I will display the graphic organizer and have the students work to complete it.  I will have them work on their own first, pushing them to think about and engage with the text.  Then, I will have them check their work with their Shoulder Partners.  This will give them another student's perspective. 

While they are sharing, I can circulate through the room-listening to their discussion and assessing their understanding. 

Finally, I will ask a student to share their answers as I complete the graphic organizer.  I will have them explain their reasoning behind their thoughts.  This is not only good for them to think about and explain how they got their answer, but also very good for the other students to hear a different way of thinking. 


Guided/Independent Practice

25 minutes

Next, I want the students to get some practice with a longer piece of text.  However, I still think I need to guide them a bit. 

In order to read the article The Panic Broadcast, I need to give the students a little background knowledge.  It helps to understand the panic Orson Welles created with his radio broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" if you understand the times. 

To begin, I will ask the students to explain what they know about the 1930's.  What was life like for people?  I'll just have this as an open format for discussion.  I will eventually guide them towards technology.  There was no computers, internet, T.V., cell phones.  This will be important to their understanding of why people panicked and could not check the validity of the broadcast.  Also, I like to discuss how people were more trusting of the news at that time.  The era of false news was not as popular or needed. 

Next, we will read the passage.  I will read it aloud once, stopping to discuss some of the points of interest and answer questions.  After I read the article once, I will model my thinking.  "What was this article about?"  "What do I remember?" "What do I still have questions on?"  This is can be helpful for my struggling readers. 

Then, I will display the text and read it again.  Only this time, I will have the students assist me in underlining text that is important.  I will ask them to look for key words, supporting details, topic, etc. 

I may start them with this process and if they are doing well, let them finish it on their own.  I can then work with any students who are struggling. 

Finally, I will ask the students to answer the Selection Questions about the selection.  This will include writing a summary about the article.  I will assign this for homework if we do not finish it in class. 


5 minutes

Summarizing is a skill the students have been working on since they were in kindergarten.  As the text becomes more and more complex, it can be harder to summarize. 

To assess their understanding and to help them process their learning, I will ask them to complete a Closure Slip.  This will ask them to explain what a summary is and to identify their level of understanding.  I can use this in developing further lessons and determining if more practice is needed.